Tom McCarthy

Tom McCarthy’s latest novel is The Making of Incarnation.

Adventures of the Black Box

Tom McCarthy, 18 November 2021

Our movements through the urban environment are recorded and archived by closed-circuit cameras, our location tracked by those miniature recording boxes we carry in our pockets, our iPhones. Online, every keystroke and click is registered, indexed and correlated with others we have made, so that future clicks may be predicted or even determined. We live, one could say, inside a giant black box.  

Writing Machines: On Realism and the Real

Tom McCarthy, 18 December 2014

In the introduction to the 1995 reissue of his 1973 masterpiece Crash, J.G. Ballard discusses ‘the balance between fiction and reality’. ‘We live,’ he writes, ‘in a world ruled by fictions of every kind – mass merchandising, advertising, politics conducted as a branch of advertising, the pre-empting of any original response to experience by the television screen. We live inside an enormous novel. It is now less and less necessary for the writer to invent the fictional content of his novel. The fiction is already there.

‘Ulysses’ and Its Wake

Tom McCarthy, 19 June 2014

How​ do you write after Ulysses? It isn’t just that Joyce writes better than anyone else (although he does), it’s the sense that Ulysses’s publication represents a kind of rapture for literature, an event that’s both ecstatic and catastrophic, perhaps even apocalyptic. A certain naive realism is no longer possible after it, and every alternative, every avant-garde...

Stabbing the Olive: Toussaint

Tom McCarthy, 11 February 2010

For any serious French writer who has come of age during the last 30 years, one question imposes itself above all others: what do you do after the nouveau roman? Alain Robbe-Grillet, Claude Simon et compagnie redrew the map of what fiction might offer and aspire to, what its ground rules should be – so much so that some have found their legacy stifling. Michel Houellebecq’s response has been one of adolescent rejection, or, to use the type of psychological language that the nouveaux romanciers so splendidly shun, denial: writing in Artforum in 2008, he claimed never to have finished a Robbe-Grillet novel, since they ‘reminded me of soil cutting’.

Six years ago, at the First Committee Meeting of the International Necronautical Society, an organisation set up to explore ‘the cultural parameters of death’ – why not? – the INS’s Chief Obituary Reviewer (my sister Melissa) announced that she would be conducting a study of surfers, whom she ‘suspected were onto something’. Six months later, I and...

Is there hope for U? Tom McCarthy

Christopher Tayler, 21 May 2015

By the end​ of the 1980s, two formerly arcane disciplines with roots in the French 1940s were readily available to British aspirants. One was post-structuralism, which not many years earlier...

Read More

For the final part of this novel’s first movement, our young hero, Serge Carrefax, travels to Kloděbrady’, a presumably Austro-Hungarian spa town, to take a cure. It’s 1913,...

Read More

Some people won’t read novels. I understand. I’m close to not wanting to read novels myself: they’re trying, and often seem the same. But one thing all fiction guarantees is...

Read More

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences